tv Democracy Now LINKTV April 16, 2012 8:00am-9:00am PDT
pe utwn vesch i joae herick, thlis ofommu wh anis there' denng theare a powerful and significant pres in our work. in this program, we're going to look at the importance of maintaining stable and quality relationships with our children's families. we'll discuss what we can do to keep the lines of communication open between school and home. but we won't do it alone. we'll talk with parents and teachers from a number of different early childhood programs--
family daycare homes, head start, university-based lab schools, and private child care centers-- and we'll learn all about their firsthand experiences of dealing with and responding to the needs of children and their families. you must be gabrielle's dad. i'm eleanor. good to meet you. hendrick: there's an old adage, "when we support the family, we support the child." but the opposite is true, too. when we ignore the family, we ignore a vital part of knowing the child. the key, of course, is communication, and it's never too early to start. ...keep her out of school. she's doing great. she really likes it. i think it's important to know where a child comes from because each child comes from a different background, and that's one of the reasons that we do home visits, is to meet and talk to the family in their own environment. i feel that when we come back from a home visit,
which is usually done in the beginning of the year for the first time, i'm able to understand the parent and the child better. hendrick: many of us, especially those who work with infants, are the child's and the parents' first real contact with the outside world. this presents us with a unique opportunity for becoming closely involved and attached to our infants and family members. hi. hi. but how do we form a bond with our children without becoming overly attached? where do we begin? we can start by making sure the lines of communication between ourselves and the family members are wide open. he has not eaten this morning. he was a good little boy, even though his sister woke him up. sissy wake you up? yes, she did. did sissy wake you up this morning? he's probably hungry. are you hungry?
hendrick: one way is by looking for opportunities to find out what's happening at home. families are under a great deal of stress these days for any number of reasons. they might regret having to leave their child with someone else and feel guilty about it. also, many families with young children are under stress as they try to balance the demands of work and family. there are ways we can keep in touch with families. first, we need to make ourselves available to parents when they're around school. informal chats during drop-off and pick-up times can do much to build relationships of trust. verbal or written messages about things that have happened at school mean a lot to parents and let them know we really care. don't forget to keep family members updated on the good news as well as any problems you may need to point out. oh, hi. nice seeing you. we have a new one here? hi, rena. how are you? nice to see you again. evan looks just like you. still? hendrick: group parent meetings and social events
are also very helpful in creating a climate of families and teachers working together. and, of course, we should use regularly scheduled parent conferences as a time to listen to what's really going on at home. woman: rich handed her a crayon. he just randomly handed it to her. we didn't think it would make any difference. and she set it down and picked it-- he had given it to her with the blunt end down instead of the pointed end, and she made a big deal of it-- "that was not right, dad." hendrick: listening skills are the basis of communication, and it all begins with the concept we call active listening. when we assume the role of an active listener, we're communicating to whoever is speaking that we've heard them correctly, that we've understood what they've said, and most importantly, that our attention means we care. there are 4 skills necessary for active listening. let's take a look at each of these active listening skills
by demonstrating what not to do. we'll begin with attending behavior. pay close attention to the teacher's body language and her lack of control over her environment. thanks for seeing us today. we wanted to talk to you about our daughter rose. she's been crying a lot at home, and, well... rose has been here a month, and still when i drop her off, she cries so much. [telephone rings] hello? oh, hi, honey. no, no. i don't feel like chinese tonight. well, i think i'm just going to have to... i'll just... i'll try and get there soon as i can, and we'll just have to do it together. yeah. ok. all right. see you soon. bye. shoot. uh, about rose. i think she's having problems adjusting to your center. [telephone rings] hendrick: let's review. did you notice how our teacher wasn't really facing the family member? eye contact is essential in face-to-face meetings.
did you notice how the teacher barely moved her head during the meeting? nods or affirmative shakes of the head convey that you are really listening. what does it tell the parent when a teacher sits back with her arms folded? this type of body language may communicate that you're feeling defensive. and what did you observe about the teacher's facial expressions? did you notice our teacher's control or lack of control over her environment? reducing or eliminating classroom distractions is so important when we're trying to talk with someone. nonverbal communication is only part of the process. the family member needs to know that you understand what they're saying. that's where paraphrasing, or the act of listening and rephrasing what people say to you, comes in. first, paraphrasing for facts. let's see what can happen when we don't paraphrase accurately. thank you for taking the time to see us today. rose is having a problem. it's kind of sensitive.
she's bedwetting. teacher: oh, i love bedwetting! it's my favorite topic to deal with with parents because i was a chronic bedwetter. i had the funniest experience when i was a child, and i had a bedwetting problem until i was, like, 8 years old, and i'll never.. not a pretty picture, is it? how did our teacher fail in her effort to paraphrase for facts? how do you think you would respond to this family member if you were the teacher? we can start by looking at the situation from the family member's point of view, we can stick to the subject instead of constantly changing it, we can keep the discussion focused on the child and the family member, and, of course, we can restate the main ideas using our own words. now let's look at a better way of doing this. ...a problem at home it's kind of sensitive in nature. she's bedwetting.
she's been bedwetting since she started at the center, so we know there's a direct correlation between daycare and bedwetting, but we can't figure it out. we're wondering if you've ever encountered that with any of the other children in your care. ok. so you're concerned about rose wetting the bed, and it sounds like you're wondering whether this related to her starting here at the center, and i also hear that you're feeling a little uncomfortable with the situation, and, uh, and sort of worried about your daughter. is that right? there are a lot of kids in this program who have the same behavior. hendrick: now that we have seen how to paraphrase for facts, let's see how paraphrasing for feelings is different. paraphrasing for feelings is very similar to paraphrasing for facts, except for focusing on what we think the family member is feeling. identifying and paraphrasing how we think the person is feeling is the key,
but let's remember to be cautious. there's nothing more uncomfortable for the speaker and the listener than identifying the wrong feeling. for instance, you might say, "i can see you're extremely concerned about his thumb sucking," but a more desirable way to say it would be, "are you more worried or irritated about the way he's gone back to sucking his thumb?" saying it this way gives people the option of correcting you if you're mistaken. attending behavior and paraphrasing for facts and feelings show the family member that we're there for them both physically and mentally. but often a well-placed question can help someone express themselves more completely. the final listening skill we're going to look at is called questioning. for every technique, there's both good and bad execution. once again, let's return to our conference and see an example of poor questioning. teacher: thanks for coming to this conference today,
and i wanted to start out by asking you a few questions. ok. does rosie watch a lot of violent tv programs would you say? no. never. well, we've seen an awful lot of aggression here at school, and i was trying to figure out where this could be coming from. do you have any ideas what... father: what do you mean by aggression? well, she hits the other kids, she chases them, pins them down, she kicks. kicking? she's, uh, scratched her teacher. frankly, we can't keep her in school like this and let her around other children if she's going to keep attacking them. hendrick: the difference between poor and effective questioning is subtle. it's really more a matter of listening carefully and asking open-ended questions. what tips would you offer our teacher the next time she tries questioning a family member? productive questions might include, to begin a conference,
"well, what's new?" when working together to solve a problem, "hmm. what have you tried so far?" "when did you first notice her doing that?" followed by, "was there anything else out of the ordinary that happened at the same time?" and finally, the best question of all is simply, "oh?" now let's look at a better way of questioning. teacher: i just wanted to start out maybe getting to know rosie a little bit better and finding out how is she at home. how are you feeling about having this 3-year-old in your house? how's it going? father: she's doing all right. yeah. she's great. she was anxious at first about the center, coming to the school with other new kids, but she seems to be fitting in a little better now. is everything going ok on your end? she's always intensely involved in whatever she's doing, usually playing with other kids. she's very sociable. she's very intense.
yeah, and i've got some observations that i've taken that i'll get to at the end of this conference. do you have any concerns about her? she's mentioned that she's gotten involved in some physical confrontations with other students. do you know anything about that? we didn't know if, uh... yeah, she came home with a bruise on her arm once. it's not uncommon in a childcare situation for children to fight, especially over toys. usually they're so engrossed in what they're doing, just as you know rosie gets completely involved in her projects, that she'll be thinking, "oh, i want the tape," and just grab it without thinking that someone else is using it. and we've really been working with this class to start paying attention to the other children and asking questions and using their words to get what they want instead of physical confrontations. hendrick: it's very important to establish rapport with each child's family, but how do we talk with parents about something we know will upset them,
and how do we respond when parents are angry with us? just as teachers sometimes blame the family for a child's misbehavior, parents sometimes blame us, perhaps threatening, "if sandra comes home once more with bite marks, i'm filing a complaint with licensing," or "i just can't believe the language jack uses since he started here." once again, the key is keeping the lines of communication wide open. we had a situation with lice that happened at school, and that happens in every school at any certain time, but this parent was particularly concerned and worried, and because she was very concerned, she chose to take her anger out on me with lots of shouting and finger pointing. so i had to take a deep breath and not take it personally and be the teacher and try to understand her point of view and yet assure her that we were doing everything we could at school,
and i was helping her in every way that i could. i asked her first of all to step into the office away from the other parents and asked her to talk about this calmly and possibly ask her to calm down and then come back and we'd talk about it at a better time. i just tried to provide her with as much information as possible, and of course letting her know that i understood her situation and her panic, but i was feeling that way, too, and we could talk about it together, and that if we worked it out together, that we were in this together, it would be better than being angry with each other about the situation. fortunately, there are alternative ways of coping with angry feelings that can help us retain control of ourselves and the situation-- very important skill for a professional person to acquire. one of the ways to maintain control is by recognizing your flash points.
the way i control my temper is to remove myself actually from the situation or from the working area. if i see a child that i know today i can't deal with, then i will call my partner and have her work with that child, her handle the situation, and i just step out totally, and then i just sit myself down in an area and just chill out. once i get my thoughts together, myself together, when i know i can go back into the working area, then i will. what kinds of issues or situations especially bother you when you're working with family members? which button is guaranteed to push you over the edge? whatever our flash points, it's helpful to know what they are in advance. once we know what they are, we can summon the self-control needed. now, does that mean we can never get angry? what do you think? remember, as with children, the same rules apply.
recognize the feeling, feel what you want, but control what you say or do about it. and with adults we can add another suggestion: give yourself time, breathing space, before you reply. let's watch our teacher as she shows us how not to respond to an angry family member. i think it comes from the things you're teaching here at this center. what kind of program are you running here? i think the kids are going to be coming in here we need to talk about thi right now. this is very important to us, and i'm not going to just be brushed off like this. well, i'm not brushing you off, but i think if you're having problems with rose, then we can talk about it down in the office. i think your people are totally incompetent. i don't see how you can say that it's our fault that your child is aggressive. i think your staff is incompetent and they're not controlling the children properly. she wasn't having these problems before we brought her to this center. that is ridiculous. when you brought rosie to this center, she starting fighting with the other kids as soon as she got here.
we couldn't leave her in a room... i find that hard to believe. completely unattended. why would you leave her unattended in the first place? i mean we had to be with her every second. well, that's what we pay you for. you don't pay for baby-sitting like that so that we can hover over your child and make sure-- you're supposed to be watching over... this is a difficult situation, and there are no easy answers. here are some tips that may help. the first thing to do is remember to recognize that she's pushed your button. now take a breath so you can control what you're going to do next. after that, paraphrase the family member's feelings and then admit your feelings by saying something like this: "i'm really concerned, too. this is what i'm trying to do about the situation." what other things could you say to ease the tension? let's look at a better way to deal with angry parents. the center's responsible. we need to talk about this right now. the kids are going to be coming in here real soon. why don't we go down in the office, and we can talk there.
that'd be fine. ok. let's have a seat here. i thought it would be better if we came in the office. father: well, i guess. so...what's the problem? i don't see the results that i expected to see from the time that she's been at this center. before she came to this center, she was much more disciplined, and we never had problems like this with her, and we think it's got to be your pervasive influence. something's going on here at the center that is causing her to disobey us, and if you're not giving her discipline, that's a problem. all right. i hear you saying a number of different things, and let me just say it back to you and see if i have it right. for one thing, it sounds like you've noticed some changes in how she's acting at home since she started at school, and you're not happy with those changes. is that right? that's right. so that's one of the problems we can talk about and try to come to some consensus about what's going on with rose. then another issue i hear you talking about is your concern about her potty training.
hendrick: so far, we focused on our communication skills with the adult members of the family, but these same skills can be applied to our children, especially in times of crisis. when a child experiences a crisis at home, it can dramatically impact upon what happens at school, and we'll have to call on all the listening and communication skills we have to help our children and their families get through these difficult and painful times. a family in crisis is a child in crisis. my mommy is gone. aw, did she already leave? did she leave already? hendrick: whether it's illness, death, losing a job, or a divorce, family crises present us with one of the greatest challenges of our jobs. during upsetting and difficult times, we can help our children get through these events by letting them know we're supporting and caring about them. but how can we remain calm and helpful in the face of painful and sometimes even tragic events,
events that upset us, too? there are many things we can do to help children through difficult times. these include... tell the truth. don't ignore the situation or pretend nothing's wrong. children always know when something's wrong, and they worry more when they don't know what it is. on the other hand, we have to be careful not to overreact. it takes a sensitive teacher to help a child through a crisis without overdoing it or intruding too much on the family's privacy. avoid false and unrealistic assurances. there's a thin line between comforting a child and promising everything is going to be all right when, from the child's point of view, it won't be. listen to what the child is saying with both words and behavior. in dealing with these difficult situations, it's important to help the child express his feelings and worries about what is happening.
all the more reason why you must keep in constant contact with family members so we can connect what the child's doing at school with what's going on at home. our shows are coming on, and then-- now it comes. this one is an alligator and a zebra. the alligator was cross and depressed. play and creative activities offer excellent outlets for a child to express her deepest innermost thoughts and fears. we can provide much-needed support for distressed children by offering them plenty of imaginative play opportunities to express their feelings and worries during a time of crisis. woman: you're working hard. if you need help, just ask me, ok? wow. you did it. now show me how you hold on to the basket. we can support their play by providing appropriate props.
we can ask questions and make comments about their play, and we can provide many opportunities to release stress with activities such as water play and finger paint. during times of crisis, let's not overreact to tears and other upset behavior. it's important to remember that crying brings relief and that it's valuable and helpful to the child. feeling bad is a part of life just as feeling joyful is, and it's important that we accept children's expressions of grief rather than block them by trying to distract children or telling them not to cry or that everything will be all right. sudden losses of control are also commonplace in such situations, and anger can be an appropriate and helpful response as long as no one gets verbally or physically hurt. when life gets too tough for children and they feel helpless, they often revert to less mature behavior such as thumb sucking or bedwetting. during such times, it can help them feel better
if you give them the opportunity to make simple choices so they feel like they're more in charge. this can help the child combat feelings of helplessness and panic that often accompany a crisis. let's review what we've learned about communicating with children and their families. we learned the value of active listening-- really paying attention to the other person's physical as well as verbal language. we've learned how important attending behavior can be. that is, controlling our environment so we can pay attention to what's being said to us without unnecessary distractions or disruptions. we learned how important it is to paraphrase for facts and for feelings to show the person we not only hear what they're saying, we also understand what they mean. finally, we've learned how important it is to ask questions so we can gain new information as well as verify our own perceptions. one of the most effective things we can do
is to make it clear to the family that we have the child's welfare at heart. we can also take care to support families, learn about them, and listen to their concerns. if we've done a good job at this, we will find that we have much bigger help when problems arise. once the lines of communication are open, we can offer families what they need the most: an accepting attitude, an open ear, and a warm heart. i'm joanne hendrick. see you next time on the whole child. children with special needs or disabilities need individual attention. but there are ways we can make them feel welcome and share the same joy and accomplishment. how to create a place where everybody's special. next time on the whole child.
[ thud ] but that's not always the case. even though one in four children may have a vision problem, eye doctors tell us the symptoms aren't always so obvious. we do know that 80% of all childhood learning is visual. and without good vision, kids can have trouble learning to read. [ girls screaming ] ow! and may fall behind in school. for clues on how to spot the real-life signs of cldhood vision problems and what parents can do, visit checkyearly.com. a public service message from the vision council of america and reading is fundamental.